The City of Brooklyn purchased nearby Milburn Pond to supply Ridgewood Reservoir in the 1880's. After the pond was enlarged, a new pumping station was needed to accommodate Brooklyn's growing need for water and the Brooklyn Waterworks, also known as the Milburn Pumping Station, was born.
|Brooklyn Waterworks before the smokestacks were removed|
Once Brooklyn became part of New York City, however, the need for the new pumping station diminished. In 1898, Brooklyn began receiving its water from the Croton Aqueduct system and in 1929, the Brooklyn Waterworks was used only as a backup water supply for emergencies. Its two huge smokestacks, pictured above, were removed at that time.
|Milburn Pond Park, Freeport|
There were rumors that the property was bought up and was going to be used a condos and later, a hospital. These turned out to be true. According to Wikipedia, the property had been bought up by developer Gary Mileus (who also owns Oheka Castle) in 1989, for 1.4 million dollars to be used for 48 condos; construction to be completed in 1990. However, a housing market collapse halted the project and, not long after, the building was severely damaged by fire. Once again, Mr. Mileus produced another proposal to convert what remained of the building into a hospital. This time, his idea was blocked by the local government.
|Remains of Brooklyn Water Works, 2006|
In 2009, Mileus won a 3.5 million dollar lawsuit relating to the ownership of the property from the Village of Freeport. It is estimated that Mr. Mileus lost 12 million on the property. The Brooklyn Waterworks was torn down on August 30, 2010. According to an article in L & M Publications, the Brooklyn Waterworks had landmark status since 1986, but was found to be beyond repair. In fact, Freeport's Landmarks Commission had approved the demolition because "it was dangerous and it became a safety issue."
|These pictures are from Rob's Long Island Oddities Mini Run in 2006|
There are still two pumping stations left, one in the town of Wantagh and one in Massapequa.
As usual here are some links with more information:
This is a link to the Long Island Oddities site. It contains a detailed history of the Waterworks plus more pictures of the building in decay.
Wikipedia article where I borrowed the black and white picture of the Brooklyn Waterworks.
A Youtube video that I found by local historian Robert Miller
and another Youtube video showing the ruins
some pics and an aerial photo of where it used to be. These are really interesting shots.
article in the New York Times dated January 12, 1869
Newsday article regarding Gary Melius lawsuit against the Village of Freeport